City wildlife finds food in local gardens

Lately, John my helper and I have been clearing my garden of debris….the usual fall clean-up and leaf raking in preparation for the county trucks which have begun the rounds of collecting neighborhood “yard waste” the county will compost for use in public parks and gardens next year.  Many of my younger neighbors will purchase the county compost by the truckload, but I make my own.

We don’t clear the entire garden.  Because some birds prefer their seeds in the natural state, for many years I have left several plants intact through the winter although their leaves and stems may be brown and withered. Birds will feed on the seed pods until spring.  John is a horticulturalist, and he has much ‘book-learning’ to complement my many decades of observation and experience, so we know what to leave and what to remove from the garden.

A few years ago before the killing frosts of late fall, I took the photos below of an American Goldfinch eating the seeds of Echinacea* plants (Camera: Canon Elf). In winter this colorful male will lose his brighter yellow feathers and becoming a dull version of his former self until spring. But, he will be here all winter and so will the Echinacea pods.

*Echinacea Purperea, the purple coneflower is a native plant, originally found in the American grasslands. Called coneflower because it’s seed pods are shaped like cones. The Echineacea in the photos is a variant, ‘White Swan.’

A hungry Goldfinch

A hungry Goldfinch

Goldfinch 9Aug2008 009-AGoldfinch 9Aug2008 012-A

I am linking this post to Michelle’s Nature Notes.  (Link left in blog roll.)

18 thoughts on “City wildlife finds food in local gardens

  1. Hi thanks for visiting my post, glad to meet you. I searched in your site where you are from, as I was a bit lost because i know only the Europeans use the term ‘horticulturalist’ while the Americans, whom we got ours use ‘horticulturist’. Your finishing a masters degree at that age is really awesome, an inspiration. I thought i am already very old when i took graduate degrees because i took PhD after 12 yrs of the last one, and i had difficulty remembering by then, hahaha!


  2. That’s lovely to leave the plants so that the birds can enjoy the benefits. I aim to plant a lot more native plants in the garden next year and follow your example. Thank you for stopping by. Your comment made me smile as I am a big believer in getting in touch with one’s inner child, long may it reign.


  3. It is amazing how wildlife flourishes in cities. Gardeners are mainly responsible; particularly if they leave seeds in situ. I leave my leave piles in a wire mesh enclosure, my compost heap is open for a long time and I have log piles and debris heaps close to hedges. Of course, mine is a country garden and I can leave things to decay naturally, but even you with your city garden can do your bit.


  4. Goldfinch love echinacea. You got great shots of them. I watch them feed on the echinacea at my house in the late summer and fall but for some reason I didn’t see many this year. I enjoyed your shots.


  5. How wonderful to leave food for birds in their natural state. I’m sure that’s so much better for them. Goldfinch are such strikingly colored birds. What terrific captures of those beautiful birds.


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